Wow. Very high praise to Ryan Pace (never thought I’d say that) and Co. for using the draft to improve the future of the Chicago Bears. This will go down as one of the best drafts in Bears history. Each pick will have a great chance to make the roster as a starter, backup, or special teams contributor. With the draft over, here are my grades on Chicago’s picks.
Pick #11: QB Justin Fields (Ohio State)
I already wrote a piece on Justin Fields, so I’ll keep this analysis pretty short. Great person and a great player. He won’t be an immediate starter for the Bears but when he gets his chance, he’ll be an electrifying presence for Chicago. For the first time in years, Chicago has been given a reason to be optimistic about the Bears.
Pick #39: OT Teven Jenkins (Oklahoma State)
A huge win for a team that lacked offensive line talent. Jenkins is a massive presence on the line at 6’6, 317 lbs. After parting ways with Bobby Massie, the Bears had a big hole on the right side of the line that would be best addressed with this year’s draft talent. Sure enough, Pace had a plan. He sent three picks to the Panthers to move up and select Jenkins.
Jenkins is described as a nasty mauler who plays with an edge. He projected as a first-round talent and after slipping into the second round, Pace saw his opportunity to upgrade a huge need for Chicago.
“My edge to me is about being able to finish anybody in the dirt. I don’t care who you are lining up against me, I don’t care what you earn against me, I don’t care who you are, I’m going to attack you.” Great value in this pick.
Round 3 and 4
Chicago did not have pick in either of these rounds after trading up.
Pick #151: OL Larry Borom (Missouri)
Pace decided to double-down and select another big (6’5, 322 lbs) offensive lineman in Missouri man Larry Borom. He was a two-year starter at Mizzou, playing at various positions on the line like right tackle, left tackle, and left guard. Borom prefers to play the tackle position and is a very athletic big man. There is still some technique work to be done but he’s a great project to take on with the Bears O-Line issues from a season ago. Don’t expect Borom to start anytime soon, but he will be a good depth piece.
Pick #217: RB Khalil Herbert (Virginia Tech)
I was a little surprised that Herbert was still here and a little more surprised the Bears took him. Chicago already has workhorse David Montgomery, crafty Tarik Cohen, and signed Damien Williams in the off-season. However, Herbert was a kick returner during college which Chicago will need after losing Cordarrelle Patterson. A big reason Pace must have drafted Herbert.
Khalil was an effective back for Virginia Tech last season, averaging 7.6 yards per carry. He will most likely get a chance to return kicks and contribute on special teams. Don’t expect him to get much action as a RB this season. He fills another hole on the Bears roster.
Pick #221: WR Dazz Newsome (North Carolina)
Man, this is a cool name. Like Herbert, Newsome does not have a clear role on the offensive side. Chicago already has Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Anthony Miller (unless he gets traded), Marquise Goodwin, and Riley Ridley as WR options. However, Newsome was a punt returner as well in college, an area Chicago could improve on.
In his four seasons at North Carolina, Newsome caught 188 passes for 2,435 yards and 18 scores. Furthermore, he returned 48 punts for 535 yards and a score. Newsome is praised for his yards after catch and instincts in the open field. The explosive factor is there for Newsome and it will be fun to watch him show it on the field.
Pick #228: CB Thomas Graham Jr. (Oregon)
Chicago went offensive for their first five picks of the draft. The defense still had gaps and Graham should help fill one. With the loss of Kyle Fuller, Chicago needed more depth options at CB. Desmond Trufant (signed in free agency) is a good player, but injuries have slowed him down. Graham will have a chance at a starting role. During his three-year journey at Oregon, Graham intercepted eight passes and broke up 32 passes. He opted out last season.
Chicago needs to figure out their starting CB alongside Jaylon Johnson. Trufant, Kindle Vildor, and Graham will get their chance. Even if he doesn’t start, Graham projects as a solid depth piece who can contribute on special teams.
Pick #250: DT Khyiris Tonga (BYU)
Big man comin’ through! The Bears beefed up their D-line with Tonga (6’2, 325 lbs). In his four seasons at BYU, Tonga racked up 130 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 12 pass breakups, and two forced fumbles. He is a good prospect who adds more power to a solid Bears front seven. The one downfall is Tonga will turn 25 in July and still has some polishing that needs to be done. However, in the seventh round, you’re looking for potential, depth pieces, and hidden gems. Tonga could be one.
Overall Analysis and Grade
I loved all these picks by Pace. I would have liked to see more aggressive pursuit on the defensive side, but the picks made for the offense are home runs. Fields and Jenkins will be key cogs in Chicago’s offense for years to come. Even if Herbert and Newsome don’t see much playing time on offense, they will get their chances to return punts/kicks. Borom and Tonga are two projects with a lot of upside.
We’ve seen Chicago come away with key contributors in the late rounds (Bilal Nichols, Tarik Cohen, and Darnell Mooney to name a few). I’m looking forward to seeing where Graham Jr. ends up as I think he can be a great defensive player, learning from Trufant and EJax. Everybody in Chicago is excited by this draft class and they should be. From what was one of the worst off-seasons Chicago could have, they rebounded in a big way.